Tyranny of Consensus – a Reception With Author Janne E. Nolan

Stimson’s Managing Across Boundaries Initiative
and The Century Foundation hosted a cocktail reception with
author Janne E. Nolan.

Janne E. Nolan event 2013

“Tyranny of Consensus,” Nolan examines three cases-the Islamic
Revolution in Iran, the proxy war with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and the
1998 embassy bombings in East Africa-to find the limitations of American
policy-makers in understanding some of the important developments around the
world. Assisted by a working group of senior practitioners and policy experts,
Nolan finds that it is often the impulse to protect the already arrived at
policy consensus that is to blame for failure. Without access to informed
discourse or a functioning “marketplace of ideas,” policy-makers can find
themselves unable or unwilling to seriously consider possible correctives even
to obviously flawed strategies.


E. Nolan

is a member of the international affairs faculty at George Washington
University and a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies. She
has held numerous senior positions in the private sector, including as
professor of international affairs and deputy director of the Ridgway Center at
the University of Pittsburgh, project director and research faculty at the
Georgetown School of Foreign Service, director of foreign policy for The
Century Foundation, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings
Institution, and senior international security consultant at Science
Applications International Corporation.

Nolan’s public service includes positions as a technology trade and arms
control specialist in the Department of State, as senior representative to the
Senate Armed Services Committee, and as the defense adviser to several
presidential campaigns and transition teams. She served as an appointed member
the White House Presidential Advisory Board on U.S. Arms and Technology Policy
(chair), the National Defense Panel, the State Department’s Accountability
Review Board (investigating terror attacks against U.S. embassies in East Africa),
the Gates Panel to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the U.S., and the
Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board.

She is the author of seven books, including “Guardians of the Arsenal: The
Politics of Nuclear Strategy” (Basic Books, 1990), “Trappings of
Power: Ballistic Missiles in the Third World” (Brookings, 1991), and
“An Elusive Consensus: Nuclear Weapons and American Security after the
Cold War” (Brookings, 1999), and is editor (with Bernard I. Finel and
Brian D. Finlay) of “Ultimate Security: Combating Weapons of Mass
Destruction” (The Century Foundation Press, 2003).

For more information please contact Esha Mufti at [email protected]
or 202-478-3439



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